The unprecedent circumstances of Covid-19 have forced the global workforce to break free from the status quo. Post-pandemic normality has become a fluid concept that is being shaped by individuals’ needs, rather than corporate objectives. Interactions are increasingly taking place online, bringing together people across locations and time zones. This evolution of communicating may feel relatively ordinary by now, but with permanent changes in working habits what does this mean for crisis communications? More specifically, how will this impact your organisation’s future crisis response efforts?
Contrary to popular belief, Covid delivered a range of crisis management opportunities. Employees have been through a whirlwind of changes, making them more creative, adaptable and resilient in the face of the unknown and becoming ideally suited to manage crises. Meanwhile, companies have been pressured to strengthen their internal communications channels and flow of information, weeding out communications weaknesses and making remote working routine. Post-pandemic organisations and their staff are perfectly positioned to face future incidents and managing crises through online means can bear greater benefits to your business resiliency. For example, an online environment:
- Allows quicker activation against crisis situations. It helps your organisation to cut down on wasted time and focus resources on crisis priorities, increasing readiness and efficiency. Thus, allowing more room to get ahead of the unfolding situation.
- Provides easier access to your workforce than ever before. Wherever your experts may be, they can participate in your crisis response. The successful management of crises is no longer tied to a geographical location and gaining specialist advice can reflect the pace of your incident.
- Enables an agile organisational response, in real-time. Managing incidents online, whilst they are happening, gives you more flexibility to pivot your strategy. The eased exchange of information doesn’t only support ongoing communications and planning, but also makes recovery more seamless.
- Supports more effective decision making. Once barriers to communicating have been removed, decision making can become easier. Furthermore, working remotely with minimised distractions may allow greater concentration on the issue at hand.
If online crisis management is utilised correctly and effectively, it can allow an organisation to streamline its management of crises globally. However, the execution of it is always more complicated than the theory. So how can your organisation make sure its online crisis response efforts are successful?
- Recognise the changes in your crisis response plans
Redraft your business contingency plans to include remote working arrangements. Clearly outline the members of your remotely working crisis team, as well as their roles and contact details. Pay particular attention to defining responsibilities of team members so identifying your required colleague is easy, even when being separated.
- Practice and fine-tune the new normal
Run online simulations to smooth out any kinks in your remote response system and include your business contingency team in the process. Map all scenarios that could pose a threat to resiliency when managing your crisis response online and have backup plans ready in case it goes south.
- Bring your crisis management to the online era
Working online creates a need for increased internal coordination, rapid communications, and new fundamental techniques of engaging. So, train your crisis response teams to prepare and manage incidents in a remote setting and invest in tested communications technology. Moreso, remove barriers to critical information by centralising sharing and storing to enable joint access.
- Build open lines of communications
When people are pushed outside their comfort zone, no matter how experienced the individual, they need psychological safety, yet we often forget to reach out in hectic settings to offer exactly that. It’s critical that crisis leaders managing remote teams actively connect with their employees, to understand the challenges they may be facing and keep up morale.
Even though the environment in which crises are managed may have changed, it’s good to remember no matter what the incident, whether it is managed online or offline, what hasn’t changed is that those who plan in advance of unexpected circumstances will be the ones maintaining their reputation.